Engineers Without Borders Brings Water to Village in the Andes Mountains

13 May 2016 9:13 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

By Emily Eichner

At 12,000 feet above sea level, a three-hour drive from the city of Quito will take you to the small village of Curingue, Ecuador.  This village is a one-hour minimum hike away from the nearest water source. This community of approximately 150 members works hard to feed their families through household farms. A small government stipend pays for household water but it must be fetched by walking the hour distance, each way, on mountainous terrain to a spring.

This long trip take a significant portion of the villager’s time each week. But even more alarming, Engineers Without Borders - Pittsburgh Professional Chapter (EWB-PPC) discovered the spring water to be unfit for consumption, as it was contaminated with harmful bacteria.  The spring water continually causes a number of health problems for many people in Curingue.  EWB-PPC is determined to reduce the community’s time spend collecting water and to provide the community of Curingue with a readily available, uncontaminated source of drinking water.

In 2014, a group from EWB-PPC traveled to Curinque to explore solutions. A group returned in 2015 for another assessment trip before the finalizing designs to build two groundwater intakes, two pumps, a pipeline, and two pump houses. The pipeline will bring water from the spring to Curinque, and the two pump houses will sit along the pipeline path, near the town. At the first pump house, the water will be treated through chlorination. Once the water reaches the second pump house, it will go through a clear house and be pumped the remainder of the way to a storage tank near Curingue.   

The design plan has been approved by EWB-USA and the Pittsburgh Professionals will be traveling for the first implementation trip in June 2016.

The community of Curinque has also been preparing for the project and will continue to work on the pipeline and other features between the next two trips.  Future trips are tentatively scheduled for fall 2016 and early spring 2017.

Despite the great progress, EWB-PPC has more work to do. There will be two more implementation trips after the June trip, for which EWB-PPC will need volunteers to travel, help with potential design changes, and work on fundraising for the project. Anyone interested in helping with the Ecuador project may contact Albert Cheng, the EWB-PPC President at

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